The Cardinal Nation July Pitcher of the Month

Memphis left-hander Tyler Lyons is our choice as the top pitching performer across the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system last month.

While I watched it happen day after day, only when the month of July ended and I looked back upon the body of work of St. Louis Cardinals minor league pitchers, was I able to fully appreciate what an exceptional month it was.

At least seven starters logged ERAs under 2.00 during the month, including two with ERA's under 1.00. This made the process of selecting The Cardinal Nation's Pitcher of the Month for July a most challenging one.

Kyle Helisek Peo 0.93 29.0 3 8 24 25 0 9 1.138
Nick Petree SC 0.93 19.1 2 3 16 22 1 9 1.309
Dailyn Martinez JC 1.14 23.2 3 6 14 15 1 9 0.991
Tyler Lyons Mem 1.60 33.2 6 6 15 33 2 8 0.693
Zach Petrick PB-Spr 1.74 31.0 6 6 21 34 0 6 0.871
Hector Hernandez Peo-PB 1.88 24.0 5 5 21 12 2 9 1.250
Jimmy Reed SC 1.96 23.0 5 5 24 20 2 2 1.130

As you already know, the winner is Memphis left-hander Tyler Lyons. Here is how I got there.

Three of the seven hurlers above work in short-season ball, a good indicator for the future. State College's Nick Petree made four starts and one relief appearance, while his teammate Jimmy Reed had three starts in five piggyback outings last month.

Though their stints are relatively short by definition, it is challenging to give them the nod when they average less than five innings per appearance. That third trip through the lineup can tell a lot. Still, their time will come.

Dailyn Martinez of Johnson City is the other short-season arm. The 20-year-old right-hander averaged just under six innings per start. Martinez had three superb July outings with one clunker, in which he allowed five runs, two earned, in 4 2/3 frames.

Two pitchers should receive special mention as they continued to perform after stepping up a level during July. Had Zach Petrick remained at Palm Beach and Hector Hernandez stayed at Peoria, they might have won this honor. Still, the future is bright as they seem to have adjusted quickly after their promotions to Springfield and Palm Beach, respectively.

That "left" a pair of lefties, Kyle Helisek of Peoria and Lyons.

Helisek has the gaudy 0.93 ERA, including no home runs allowed and a good 25:9 strikeout to walk ratio in 29 innings. On the downside, the 23-year-old had a rough night on July 24. Helisek went just two innings, allowing eight baserunners (three hits and five walks) and four unearned runs.

Lyons had no such bumps in the road. In between stints with St. Louis, the 25-year-old was phenomenal. Lyons had two two-hit scoreless outings over seven innings and overall, posted a 1.60 ERA in 33 2/3 innings over five starts. His record was 3-0 as he fanned 33 and walked eight. The former Oklahoma State star gave up just 15 hits all month, leading to an amazing 0.693 WHIP.

Lyons was the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Month for July 1-7. He led the Triple-A circuit in July batting average against (.130) and WHIP, was third in ERA and strikeouts and tied for fifth in wins.

Congratulations to Tyler Lyons, The Cardinal Nation/ July Pitcher of the Month.

Other honorable mentions

The exceptionally high bar of a 2.00 ERA or better left behind a number of sub-3.00 ERA starters who would normally be right in the mix. They include Cory Jones (Peo - 2.08 ERA), Ryan Sherriff (PB - 2.15), Kyle Hald (PB - 2.70), Andrew Pierce (SC - 2.75), Michael Wacha (Mem - 2.82), Fidencio Flores (GCL - 2.89) and Chris Perry (SC- Peo - 2.92), among others.

The relievers

I always struggle with how to properly recognize bullpenners in these awards. In July alone, six relievers threw at least eight innings without allowing an earned run. Their stats follow, listed in innings-pitched order.

Iden Nazario PB 0.00 14.2 0 1 4 20 0 6 0.704
Danny Miranda PB-Spr 0.00 13.1 0 0 8 10 0 2 0.763
Zack Russell Peo-Spr 0.00 10.2 0 1 5 16 0 2 0.686
Yeison Medina DSL 0.00 10.1 0 1 7 12 0 3 0.990
Andy De La Cruz DSL 0.00 8.2 0 0 5 9 0 1 0.732
Dixon Llorens Peo 0.00 8.1 0 0 7 18 0 2 1.111

Other stingy relievers in July included Mitch Harris (SC - 0.73 ERA), Jeff Rauh (SC- 0.79), Dylan Hawkins (GCL - 0.84), Estarlin Arias (DSL - 0.90) and Ronnie Shaban (PB - 0.93).


On Friday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals organization also named Lyons the organization's Pitcher of the Month for July. Cardinals director of minor league operations John Vuch commented on the winner.

"While we had several pitchers who were worthy candidates for this month's award, Tyler has really done an outstanding job of applying the experiences he obtained at the Major League level earlier this year into making him even more effective at Memphis," said Vuch. "His improved command of all of his pitches has allowed him to pitch deeper into games and enabled him to have a great deal of success against both lefty and righty hitters."

How did June's top pitcher fare in July?

The Cardinal Nation and the St. Louis Cardinals organization agreed that right-hander Carlos Martinez was the system's top hurler in June. The 21-year-old continued his success in July.

Martinez spent most of the month in St. Louis' bullpen, but bookended that stint with a pair of impressive starts with Memphis. Between his July 5th and 28th starts, the hard-thrower allowed just one solo home run in 10 1/3 Triple-A innings, fanning eight, but walking six against nine hits.

With St. Louis in July, Martinez yielded three earned runs in 3 1/3 innings over three appearances. He was sent back down to the Redbirds on the 25th and returned to the starting rotation.

Prior winners

Click on the highlighted links to be taken to earlier articles about the monthly selections by both The Cardinal Nation and the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

  Player of Month   Pitcher of Month  
2013 The Cardinal Nation Cards organization The Cardinal Nation Cards organization
April  Jamie Romak Tommy Pham John Gast John Gast
May Kolten Wong Kolten Wong Kevin Siegrist Kevin Siegrist
June Anthony Garcia Anthony Garcia Carlos Martinez Carlos Martinez
July Jonathan Rodriguez Jonathan Rodriguez Tyler Lyons Tyler Lyons

Up next

Our selection as Player of the Month for July will be followed by the monthly update to the Cardinals top 40 prospect rankings coming this weekend. The latter is exclusively for subscribers to The Cardinal Nation.

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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